Amazon’s Tactics Confirm Its Critics’ Worst Suspicions

This week, as part of a contract dispute with the publisher Hachette, we’re seeing Amazon behaving at its worst. The company’s willingness to nakedly flex its anticompetitive muscle gives new cause for concern to anyone who cares about books — authors, publishers, but mainly customers. Here’s the back story: In an effort to exert pressure on Hachette, Amazon began taking down preorder buttons for many Hachette titles. It has also…

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Facebook, Now You Remind Me of a Half-Drunk Cocktail Party Schmoozer

Last week, Facebook asked me what sportsing teams I cared about (and helpfully supplied me with a list of the teams I’d be statistically most likely to favor if I had any interest in sportsing). Now Facebook is asking me what TV shows I’ve  watched. Well, yes, I’ve watched episodes of each of these shows, but I have no particular desire to define my online presence (and thus the marketing targeted to…

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Star Wars: TIE Fighter 20th Anniversary Retrospective

In the Star Wars films, the empire is evil to the core. But TIE Fighter let you see the empire from a new perspective. The game didn’t make you feel like a bad person doing bad things, but like a pilot who might reasonably have believed that what he was doing was in the galaxy’s best interests. | Now, some 20 years later, it’s extremely common for games to let…

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Facebook’s Mike Hudack rants about the media: Why won’t anybody do something about these shallow viral stories?

When a Facebook executive whines about all these shallow viral links clogging our feeds, Slate’s Jordan Wiessmann clicks him a new one. If only we, the American people, could summon a champion. Someone who could, with the change of a single algorithm, turn the entire media ecosystem on its head. But who? –Jordan Weissmann, Slate.

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What Makes Ohio State the Most Unequal Public University in America?

So while university presidents are making huge salaries, Tom Frank explains, students “borrowed and forked over enormous sums in exchange for the privilege of hearing lectures…lectures that were then delivered by people who earned barely enough to stay alive. It is a double disaster of the kind that only we Americans are capable of pulling off.” The schools that followed OSU on the “most unequal” list were, in order, Penn…

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Facebook’s push of “related articles” to users without checking credibility draws fire

The links under your friend’s post got your attention. What the hyperbolic, go-for-the-gut click-baity blurb did to your lizard brain will make steaming blood gush out of your empty eye sockets. Ok, probably not, but still… [A] Facebook official made clear that the company does not apply the same fact-checking standard when offering readers related stories on their news feed, such as the ones about the Obamas. “These news feed…

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Ethics of standardized testing

A blogger who had a much worse day than I did writes: Today I finished administering the sixth day of New York State Common Core assessments. I was a facilitator in a process that made my 10 year old students struggle,to the point of frustration, to complete yet another 90 minute test. I sat by as I watched my students attempt to answer questions today that were beyond their abilities.…

Robo Grader

Standardized-test robo-graders flunk

“According to professor of theory of knowledge Leon Trotsky, privacy is the most fundamental report of humankind. Radiation on advocates to an orator transmits gamma rays of parsimony to implode.’’ ANY NATIVE speaker over age 5 knows that the preceding sentences are incoherent babble. But a computer essay grader, like the one Massachusetts may use as part of its new public school tests, thinks it is exceptionally good prose. –Standardized-test…

Google Stops Scanning Student Gmail Accounts for Ads

Google said Wednesday that it stopped scanning student Gmail accounts for advertising purposes after the practice was scrutinized during a recent court case. | Google Apps for Education, a free service used by more than 30 million students, teachers and administrators, offers Gmail email accounts, as well as calendars, cloud storage and document creation.Google Stops Scanning Student Gmail Accounts for Ads – Digits – WSJ.